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Archive | Jewish Week

This category contains articles originally published in the Jewish Week.

A Q & A with the Jewish Week

With Rhapsody in Schmaltz coming out in a couple of weeks the interviews are coming in thick and fast. Here’s one Wex did for Steve Lipman at The Jewish Week. Over the last decade, author-translator Michael Wex has become the public voice of Yiddish culture — especially for the non-Yiddish-speaking public. A native of Canada’s Alberta province […]

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Donald Trump and Yiddish

“It may not be good for the American political system, but at least it’s good for Yiddish. A bissel, that is.” The Jewish Week got hold of Wex at Yiddish New York for his opinion on Trump’s recent use of the word “schlonged”. “If Donald trump is using Yiddish, we have failed,” he said. But, as Yiddish logic […]

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Nothing says heymish like an African safari

Last week Wex was asked to comment on New York Times journalist David Brooks’ piece on his African safari vacation, and specifically on his use of the Yiddish word haimish (sic). Although he has no problem with Brooks’ understanding of the word heymish (to give it the YIVO transliteration), Wex does have something to say about […]

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Like a Cossack in a sukkeh

It must be this year’s yontoyvim, because it sure isn’t my fault. First I lose my position as gabbai for giving hagbeh to a trombenik on Rosh Hashana and now I’m stuck in England, watching rain filter through the roof of one of my in-law’s sukkes while being told, quietly but often, that the proper […]

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The Rosh Hashanah hero

I might be wrong, but I think that Rosh Hashana has made me a hero. I’m gabbai––a synagogue valet––at an orthodox shul in Toronto where I’m in charge of kibbudim, the distribution of such honors as opening the ark, being called to the Torah, and so on. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah this […]

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Helfn vi a toytn bankes

Along with the shone toyves that I’ve been sending out to friends and family this year, I’ve been receiving New Year’s cards of another kind from politicians and Jewish communal figures whom I’ve been peppering with what are best described as instructional letters and e-mails. These cards implore me to be sure to go to […]

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Veys ikh voos!

We’re into the month of Elul now, when we’re supposed to begin examining our deeds and telling the truth to God and ourselves. Contempt for the kind of b.s. that we use to justify our dodgier actions has given rise to one of the most remarkable, not to mention useful, of Yiddish phrases: veys ikh […]

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More wedding idioms in Yiddish

A little more on weddings. If someone complains about tantsn af tsvey khasenes (mit eyn por fis), “dancing at two weddings (with one pair of legs),” they’re saying that they can’t do two things or be in two places at once. You can talk about tantsn af fremde khasenes, “dancing at other people’s weddings.” This […]

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Summer weddings in Yiddish

The Fourth of July was the second day of rosh-khoydesh Tammuz, which means that there’s a sudden rush on weddings before the mid-summer hiatus that we call the dray vokhn, a period of mourning during which all celebrations are banned. Wedding planners and anxious mekhutonim are busy busy busy uniting Jewish children before the city […]

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Sweet, sweet Summer

Zimer-leyb, as Mendele Moykher Sforim used to say, “Sweet, sweet summer”; me’ shikt di kinder avek in di kontris, the children are off in the country, rusticating under the watchful eyes of experienced, specially trained college students from Europe and the Antipodes, while you have opted to stay in the city, pretending to be on […]

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